kindergarten class
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
February 28, 2024 ·  4 min read

Kindergarten Teachers Want Incoming Students To Focus on Life Skills, Not Academic Ones

It’s not easy to be a kindergarten teacher. You don’t even need to ask one to know why. Just ask any parent juggling one or several young children. Just imagine handling a whole class of little kids! And you can’t just handle them, you have to educate them. However, it’s almost impossible to teach a group of children who don’t have certain life skills first. For instance, how could a child learn the alphabet if he doesn’t know how to sit and listen? How could a teacher take care of a class if several students need assistance every time they need the bathroom?

What Should Kids Know Before Kindergarten?

In a poll, over 70 kindergarten teachers in the United States replied to the question: “What skills do you wish every incoming kindergartner would have mastered when they come to your classroom on the first day of school?” [1]

In the end, 64 out of 73 responded with different kinds of life skills. Very few rathered their students would arrive with more academic prowess. These life skill answers included:

  • How to use the restroom properly by themselves
  • All of the skills involved in eating like opening up juice boxes independently and cleaning up afterward
  • The skills involved with clothes, such as putting on a coat, buttoning, zipping, putting on shoes, and understanding they have to keep their clothes on
  • Their parents’ first and last names, and their caretaker’s phone number
  • Social skills like waiting their turn, talking respectfully to adults, responding when they are called, and being kind to their peers
  • How to behave in a classroom, such as sitting in a chair, listening, following simple directions, blowing their noses, etc.
  • How to do tasks they may not prefer
  • Motor skills like holding pencils, scissors, and glue sticks

Parents and Kindergarten Teachers are a Team

While all parents are busy, they need to ensure that their children are ready for the more taxing environment of school. While the kindergarten teachers are there to teach your child, they cannot give her frequent one-on-one attention while they are managing a class. After all, there’s only so much lunchtime and if a teacher has to open every child’s juice box and sandwich bag, it’s going to cut into teaching time. 

Plus, the kindergarten curriculum may be more intense than you expect. It involves developing the children’s language arts skills, such as reading, writing, and speaking. They will learn how to count, recognize shapes, and the concepts of addition and subtraction. Plus, there are classes in science, health, music, art, social science, and physical education. Additionally, social skills are also emphasized and developed. All of this may be impossible for a child who has yet to follow directions with two steps, like “take a piece of paper and put it on the desk.” [2]

Kindergarten teachers value parents for being the children’s first teachers. The research found that families and teachers working together could help children thrive academically and socially. Although teachers are the children’s prime educators, parents could be instrumental in helping the kids get the most out of their learning. [3]

Tips for Preparing a Child for Kindergarten

Aside from teaching social and life skills, there are other ways a parent could help their child be ready for kindergarten. 

  1. Take the child for a checkup, especially for their hearing and eyesight. It’s best to discover any potential issues before school begins.
  2. Fill out the emergency contact forms and ensure the child knows who will be picking them up from school.
  3. Teach health skills, such as blowing their noses, and coughing and sneezing into their elbows.
  4. Contact the teachers if you have questions or concerns, ideally via email or phone call.
  5. Get involved in the child’s education by practising their numbers, shapes, and letters at home. [4] Also, read together often.
  6. Cultivate skills in self-control and self-expression.
  7. Ensure the child has plenty of playtime outside of school. Play is how a child could develop skills and learn about themselves. Limit screen time to allow more time for this.

In general, however, parents don’t have to stress over preparing their kids for kindergarten. Teaching life and academic skills could easily be incorporated into the child’s daily routine. “Reading books, playing with your kids, those kinds of things,” said Mollie Bruhn, an early childhood educator in New York City.

Additionally, this could also include family activities such as visiting museums and zoos, playing with other children, taking swimming or art lessons. A parent doesn’t need to become a teacher. “…Have faith that teachers are used to meeting kids where they’re at,” said Bruhn. “That is our job. That’s what we do.[5]


  1. “Kindergarten Teachers Want Incoming Students to Focus on Life Skills, Not Academic Ones.” We Are Teachers. Angela Snodgrass. February 2, 2021
  2. “What Is the Typical Kindergarten Curriculum?Very Well Family. Carol Banbraidge. June 26, 2021
  3. “4 Things Kindergarten Teachers Want You to Know.NAEYC. Karen and Tom Buchan.
  4. 7 things kindergarten teachers want you to know.” Today’s Parent. Lisa van de Geyn. July 30, 2018
  5. “Kindergarten Curriculum: What Your Child Will Learn This Year.Parents. Mary Harvey. May 19, 2021